Yesterday, I answered a phone call I had been dreading for years. My mom called and told me that she had bad news and did not know how to tell me. I knew then what had happened and my heart sunk like a rock. My dog, Leo, had been put down. He was very old, probably old enough to be a runner up for a Guiness world record. I had gotten him when I was only four years old and he was like a brother to me. I grew up an only child and he was my companion for my entire childhood. He slept in my bed for most of his life, until I went off to college. He was a little black ball of shiny fluff when we got him, and over the years his fur turned grey with age. When he was a puppy, he lived in a house with cats and every time he yawned it sounded like a little meow. I wish I could have been there with him for his last moments because he had been there for me through every up and down for my life. Eighteen years of growth, walks in the park, and cuddles are all the memories I have now. Leo was the perfect pet, and I feel like I lost a piece of my childhood.
My mom took him to the river in my hometown and fed him sausages until he could not eat any more and he could only lick them before his appointment. There were old ladies walking along the path that stopped and loved on him and gave my mom a much-needed hugs. She took him to the veterinarian’s office, and he fell asleep peacefully in her arms. He did not fuss or whine, he just relaxed in her arms. She took him home and buried him underneath my childhood bedroom’s window with his blanket and toys. My other dog, Jensa, stood by her and cuddled her afterward. I am heartbroken that this happened while I was at school worried about boy problems and my classes, but I am happy he is no longer suffering. He was in pain and he could no longer walk on that last day. I joked with my mom that he was a legal adult, and she shared some pictures of him with me that made me smile.
Losing a pet can be like losing a loved one. It is painful, and so unfair that their life spans are shorter than ours. I was his lifelong friend, and now I have a whole future to live without him. It puts some things into perspective, and I am going to make sure I make every moment with my loved ones count, especially with the holidays coming up. Being in college means being away from your pets for most students, and life goes on even when you are away from home. With all of this on my mind, I hope everyone reading this squeezes your furry friends a little tighter next time you see them and give them an extra treat just because. They deserve it.
Picture: Leo, June 21, 2001-November 12, 2019